Eric Fischl was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times over the weekend about his memoir but it gave him the opportunity to say something well worth remembering in our age of art as an asset. Having said that, much of Fischl’s description buyers and their motivations is sentimental nonsense. Everyone wants to decry the philistines and set them against some idyllic set of high-minded collectors. But the history of art collecting just doesn’t support that story line. Nonetheless, when an artist makes a painting or a sculpture, he or she is not producing a product where the primary purpose is maximizing its sale value, let alone its resale value:
My primary thing is to make a painting, not necessarily to make a painting to sell for gazillions of dollars, but just to make a painting. But somehow the market has made it such that nobody talks about talent anymore. It’s almost politically incorrect to talk about an artist having talent, because then it’s exclusive.
Whereas the price tag isn’t?
It’s weird. The price tag has replaced it, and it’s certainly not a critical dialogue. It’s just something that’s a symbolic thing where it must mean the person who sells for the most money is the best artist. It’s a total false kind of critical economy and very destructive to the culture as well. Artists don’t really want to be marginalized. They believe that everybody should be able to appreciate the experience that an artist gives them, an experience that connects us to each other in a deep way. So an artist isn’t satisfied that their work is bought for gazillions of dollars, put in a crate, put in a warehouse and kept there until auction, where it’s sold for even that much more gazillions. It’s a nightmare